History

St. Elizabeth Seton School was built and was opened in 1976. It was originally designed as an open area school and was later refitted to a regular school design in the early eighties. The first principal was Ernie Sebastian later followed by Mel Edlund, Don Dolan, Pat Maschio, Gerald Dore, Ryan Ledene, Chris Andrew, Margaretrose Willms, Terri Lynn Mundorf and presently Sinead Armstrong.

The school was named after St. Elizabeth Seton.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton became the first American -born saint when she was canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975. Born in New York City on August 28, 1774, she came from a well-to-do family. Her father, Richard Bayley, was a distinguished surgeon and professor at King’s College - now Columbia University. Despite her comfortable home Elizabeth tasted sorrow in her early childhood. Her mother died when she was only three.

Elizabeth received a good education under her father’s direction. At 19 she married a handsome and rich young man, William Seton Jr., who’s father owned a large shipping firm. Both came from prominent Anglican families and the marriage took place before the Anglican bishop of New York. The union was blessed with five children, two sons and three daughters.

Soon the tide of fortune turned. Seton’s business collapsed and his health deteriorated and he died of tuberculosis on a trip to Italy. At 29, Elizabeth was left a widow with five children, limited money and no source of income. In her sorrow and distress, she drew closer to God and became particularly attracted to the Catholic religion.

After her conversion on March 14, 1805, her friends and relatives ostracized her. A boarding school she had opened in New York was closed down because it was feared she might taint the students with her Catholic beliefs. She later opened a girls’ school in Baltimore convinced that this would be her life’s work. Several teachers at the school shared her idealism. Together they decided to start an American branch of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, a French order of nuns.

They opened a convent in a log cabin in rural Maryland. Elizabeth suffered great physical pain from the extreme labor of carrying water and wood. Once a sister companion found her shoulders bleeding. Elizabeth dismissed the incident by saying: “When the buckets are heavy, I think of the weight of the cross.”

The day after her canonization, Cardinal Wright summarized her career praising her as “wife, sterling character, educator, founder, pioneer in American education and saint - a woman who excelled in just about every career to which a woman aspires and on which civilization depends upon for the special gifts uniquely present in a woman”.

With her last breath, she whispered to her spiritual daughters gathered around her bed, “Be children of the Church, be children of the Church.”

At Seton all the staff and students celebrate St. Elizabeth Seton day in January every year.